At its 2018 National Lawyers Convention this past Friday, the Federalist Society sponsored one of its characteristically excellent panels featuring diverse points of view — this one on the 2014 lawsuit challenging Harvard’s sophisticated program of racial discrimination in undergraduate admissions. The lawsuit was brought by Students for Fair Admissions against Harvard alleging that Harvard was violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by, among other things, discriminating against Asian Americans in the admissions process. The lawsuit is based in part on overwhelming statistical evidence that Harvard discriminates both in subjective scoring and selection for admission to limit the number of Asian Americans that attend the college.
Federalist Society Civil Rights practice group chairman Gail Heriot introduced the program. She is followed by the moderator, Fifth Circuit Judge James Ho, Patrick Strawbridge (a partner at the firm representing plaintiffs in the case), Althea Nagai (Center for Equal Opportunity), Professor Andrew Koppelman (Northwestern University School of Law) and Professor John Yoo (Berkeley Law). The Federalist Society has posted the video with background here and on YouTube.
Here we have the clash of ideas in a form that allows the interested viewer to make up his own mind on the questions of law and policy (although at 1:08:26 Professor Koppelman calls for Harvard to end its ceiling on Asian-American admissions “if” it has one). Strawbridge’s remarks go over the claims in the lawsuit in detail. Professor Yoo’s (witty and trenchant) remarks begin at about 1:14:00. I should note for the record that Professor Yoo misattributes a frequently quoted remark about how Jews vote (“Jews earn like Episcopalians, and vote like Puerto Ricans”) to Norman Podhoretz; although I believe NP has frequently quoted it, the late Milton Himmelfarb wrote it.
I have cued the video below to begin with Professor Heriot’s introduction. The panelists respond to each other at about 1:31:00. They take questions from the audience at about 1:41:00.
We have written about the lawsuit several times. I recommend Stuart Taylor’s Weekly Standard article “Racial Preference on Trial as Harvard Goes to Court.”